The Association of Baptist Churches of Chad is an organization serving the Baptist churches in the state of Chad in Equatorial Africa. The General Council of Cooperating Baptists of North America, Inc. (org. October 15, 1920 in Elyria, Ohio) sent six missionaries to French Equatorial Africa in the fall of 1920, and they reached Africa in January 1921. Baptist work in Chad (then still a part of French Equatorial Africa) began in 1925. Paul Metzler entered this area from the work already begun further south in what is now the Central African Republic. In 1960, both Chad and the Republic of Central Africa became independent states. In 1963 Baptist Mid-Missions (the name adopted by the General Council of Cooperating Baptists of North America in 1953) separated the two fields of labor, and the Association of Baptist Churches was formed. By the early 1970s, Baptist churches in Chad numbered in the hundreds. But in 1973, these churches suffered a severe setback. The government attempted to enforce tribal initiation rites. The Baptists resisted. Churches were closed, believers were persecuted, 13 Chadian pastors were executed, and missionaries were expelled from the country. Medical personnel were allowed to stay. But when the government formed their Evangelical Church, the mission refused to cooperate and the government closed the mission's medical center. The remaining medical missionaries left the country at that time. In 1975 the ruling regime was overthrown and the churches reopened within a few weeks. In 1976 the medical center was opened again. In 1995 the Association of Baptist Churches had 150 churches with about 20,000 members. Baptist Mid-Missions still maintains a few missionaries in Chad. The Koumra Medical Center, started by Baptist Mid-Missions but now run by nationals, operates to train doctors, nurses, and medical workers. Though unrelated to the Association of Baptist Churches, the Southern Baptist Convention added Chad as a mission field in 1993. The predominant religion of Chad is Islam (about 55%), which is strongest in the north, while animism dominates much of the tribal religion of the south.